HAKKER: dispatches

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Hakker, Dispatch 017: 
April 2004


I wonder if EYE has a sense of humor. Can he/she take a joke, laugh, see the funny side of things? The little I know about him/her probably means "no."

Good. A person who can't laugh is usually not as clever as he/she thinks.

Is there a photo of EYE somewhere? I'm getting so impatient. The more I learn, the more I need to learn to make sense of what I already know. The impatience is dangerous. I might make a fatal mistake. I must not get ahead of myself. I've prepared for almost any eventuality. If I screw up now, I'm probably finished.

That's what I was thinking of, among other more practical matters like "How does one take a pee without being detected by infrared cameras?"... as I stood in the woods outside the countryside compound of P-B, near the city of D. I'd taken one too many caffeine tablets; heart rate was a bit hyper.

I'd slept badly before this planned raid. It was a Saturday night in the beginning of April 2004 - dry weather, just chilly enough, the snow gone. Perfect. Watching through my cheap night scope (which I would soon discard) the P-B compound looked packed: at least twenty cars stood parked outside. The main building had two satellite dishes.

For this very special occasion, Inti Fatah had arranged diversions for EYE. Her friends were sent to go prancing before surveillance cameras, shouting for EYE to show up, in order to confuse and attract attention. (Instructing the pranksters was easy: "Shout 'I AM!' and 'I SUX!' until the cops tell you to go home.")

Inti must've doubted my sanity. She's read my journal, and she says she believes only half of it. I wouldn't blame her. Half of my story is completely crazy. It would never make the papers or the nine o'clock news. And some of it - not much, just a few bits, for reasons of personal security - is made up. But she owes me a big favor and her word is good as gold.


You might have guessed it by now: The previous dispatch was a decoy. I never was in Finland last month. Neither was I in Denmark in 2004 (that account was mostly true, except it happened in 2003).

I've spent the whole of 2004 in one country, preparing myself, gathering intel. And now it has begun. Let me tell you the truth about the first big raid of my Spring Offensive...

I had built not one, but two very small, compact EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) devices. This was my trump card against EYE and his/her cohorts: they would never risk damaging their own hardware and communications, but I could manage without most of the digital stuff. Testing and estimating the EMP effect was tricky - they make a lot of noise and the range is directly proportional to how big and heavy I make them. Fortunately, I only needed to knock out an area of a few houses at most.

My personal arsenal was stripped down to the non-electronic basics: crossbow, knives, shurikens, arrows and darts tipped with tranqs (same kind they use to knock out animals), duct tape, baseball bat, dynamite, gas mask, one tear-gas grenade, and my trusty umbrella. I could only carry one prisoner, so it was important that I took one who had the cybernetic implants I was looking for. Which is why I'd brought a metal detector, wrapped in triple layers of aluminum foil to protect it from the EMP weapon. (Maybe I'd lose it anyway... luck favors the brave!)

With the nightscope switched on and over my eyes, and the two EMP devices weighing down my backpack, I made my advance. I pushed an old front-loading flatbed motorcycle (engine sturdy enough to withstand a minor EMP) through the densest undergrowth, toward the perimeter fence. There were cameras and detectors, of course. I hid the motorcycle behind a tree, unloaded the first EMP device, crawled out of the undergrowth and placed the device as close to the fence as I dared. Then I lit the thirty-second fuse, and ran for the front gate. The weight of the five-kilo EMP device and the metal detector in the backpack cut into my shoulders. I went down flat on my stomach, held my ears and loosened the straps of my nightscope.

BLAM! The first blast splintered a small tree, and knocked out the lights on the inside and the exterior of the compound. Metal shrapnel smashed into walls and windows. I tossed away the ruined scope and charged at the guard who stood by the gate. The guy was wearing full riot gear: flak jacket, teflon helmet, gloves, and he carried an M-16 with a grenade launcher.

But with his night scope just now short-circuited by the EMP, he'd gone blind.

He was still fumbling with the night scope, when I dropkicked him and bashed his throat in with the baseball bat. I went down on my knees and cut loose his keychain. Then I glimpsed the cell-phone in his belt and pressed the buttons at random. Nothing. It was dead.

The crazy grin on my face wasn't pretend. You can't imagine the rush of power I felt then. Dangerous toys, those EMPs.

There was no signpost by the entrance doors to announce the gathering of EYE's followers and candidates: the cover was a "seminar" on biometric chips, which I knew from a leaflet. The movement did not discuss their meetings or activities on the Internet - ever - which either meant group loyalty was total, or that EYE somehow censored all such postings from the Internet. The "seminar" had been going on for one day.

Inside was darkened, but not completely dark; some sort of emergency battery might've kicked in. F***! It had been a good idea to bring along the second EMP. Hunching down by a window, I took off the backpack, unloaded the second device and the metal detector, lit the fuse... and ran like hell. The explosive charge was strong enough to take out a wooden wall. I had rehearsed this until I could do it in the dark, but there was a faint light from a corridor down the hallway,

I rounded a corner, and saw people. Three human figures lay still on the floor in weird poses, as if the EMP had knocked'em down. Their eyes were shut; I could hear breathing, not sure where it came from. Two other guys came at me, lit from behind by the only electric light in the center of a large room. Rows of computers and other equipment stood on tables, attached to power cables hanging down from the ceiling.

The smaller guy raised some sort of small weapon or instrument at me, but he never got the time to use it. I threw myself to the floor and held my ears.

BLAM! The shockwave of the second blast coming so close, and the crash of a wall being blown to bits, shocked'em stiff. The smaller guy stumbled and fell. I dropkicked the biggest guy, and he slammed into the furniture. (Real furniture does not break like it does in the movies.) The smaller guy was reaching for the gizmo he'd dropped. I picked it up and stabbed their arms with my tranq darts. They would be out cold for hours.

Smoke billowed out into the corridor. There had to be others in the compound, possibly hiding out - some of them might even have families and children. I didn't want to hurt people who had no reason being here, so I stopped and listened for sounds of crying kids.

I felt a cold shiver down my back: no one was crying. I heard footsteps of maybe ten people, but no one sobbed or wept or screamed for help. As if they didn't HAVE to speak, or had lost the ability. What the hell was being done to them? It couldn't be me alone that scared them that bad, or the blast.

I held the crossbow ready, lit the gas lighter and surveyed the equipment on the tables. Apart from the computers, which were dead, I could recognize an electron microscope... and in a corner stood a big CAT-SCAN machine, the type they use in hospitals. I aimed the lighter at a locked room with a big window, and peeked inside. A human figure lay on a table there, covered by a sheet, and with a breathing-mask over his mouth. The sign on the door read: DUST-FREE AREA; FORBIDDEN TO ENTER WITHOUT PROTECTIVE SUIT.

This wasn't a "seminar." It was Frankenstein's laboratory. I unlocked the door with the guard's keys, and entered a small "airlock" section with transparent protective suits hanging on the wall. Inside the operating room stood a tall machine which might've been a laser for surgery, and a tray full of knives and gloves. The floortiles were a bit slippery - the floor had recently been cleaned.

The man on the operating table was still breathing. I tried to wake him up, but he just mumbled. He seemed to be about 20-25 years old, rather thin... I unpacked the metal detector and prayed the damn thing was still working. There were movements outside, but no noise to suggest panic in the compound. Why didn't they SAY something, damn it?

The little green power button on the detector lit up. I scanned the length of the skinny figure's body. When I came to the head, the detector beeped. I searched the base of his neck, and felt a small bandage. He had just been operated.

What made me choose this particular person? Pity? I don't know. I could have picked others. It was pure instinct, and I trust my instincts. And he was just the right size for me to carry outside.

I loaded the crossbow with a dynamite-stick arrow, put on my gas mask and lifted the unconscious "patient" over my shoulder. When I came out into the room where the equipment stood, figures with candles and cigarette-lighters were emerging from doorways and corridors. I pulled the pin on the tear-gas grenade and rolled it in under a table. The figures started to cough. Still no screaming, no one shouting "Stop!" or "Call the police!" I headed for the entrance; the doors had been blasted away by the second EMP.

I removed the gas mask and gasped for cold night air; it was heavy going, carrying that patient outside. While I rushed past the parking lot, I heard someone come after me. I turned around, flicked the lighter and lit the short fuse on the dynamite-stick arrow. The crossbow jolted in my grip, and the arrow hit the nearest car tire with a bang and a hiss. I ran for the gates.

Just as I reached the gate fance, I went down. Then the dynamite blew - and the first car with it - and I forgot to hold my ears. The bang made me temporarily deaf. The patient I carried stirred a little. I pushed myself up and carried him into the woods, to the flatbed bike. I had to leave him in a ditch, while I pulled the bike out of hiding and onto the road. In the corner of my eye I noticed that the guard had not been hit by the blast; he was still lying by his glass booth, which had shattered.

I worked as fast as I could, keeping an eye on the compound; the fire from the burning car wasn't spreading as fast as I'd hoped (it NEVER works like in the movies!), but I saw no one cross the parking space, as long as the flames were crackling and thick smoke engulfed the place.

Tucked in on the platform, with a blanket and a canvas over him, the "patient" rested while I started up the engine. The spark plugs refused to ignite on the first attempt, and I panicked. Another forceful twist of the gas handle, and the engine rumbled and putted. And away we went.

It was a clear and starry night, and it felt great to be alive.



Transporting my captive to a safehouse in the middle of the night, to the city of D, without alerting the police, was not that easy. I had to take several detours and check up the guy's health several times. He woke up at one point, and I told him to stay put. Couldn't use a tranq dart on him, considering the state he was in, and I worried that the cold air might make him sick.

I stopped by a pay phone and made the call to Inti (using a voice scrambler, in case EYE was listening for my voice), who arrived with a car. I ditched the motorcycle and we carried the guy into the car.

I hid down in the backseat under a canvas. Inti asked me if the raid had been successful, and who the unconscious man in the hospital dress was.

"They had him on an operating table. Not in a hospital, but... some sort of laboratory. He's had surgery recently."

"Are you sure this has anything to do with that 'Church of the Internet' thing? Maybe you entered a private clinic for sick people?"

"I'll just have to ask him, okay? These people don't play games. They make illegal experiments on people, turn them into cyborg zombies. I'll show you proof."

"You took photos if the place?"

I sighed. "I couldn't. The electromagnetic pulse destroys cameras and phone-cams. It was enough trouble just getting in and out of there."

"Did you kill anyone?"

"No, I don't think so." (Well, maybe not.) "You know I don't go around hhurting people for no reason." It was fatigue and tension that made me testy, and I realized that I was arguing with her. "Thanks for helping me." I put a hand on her shoulder and gave it a squeeze. "You won't have to do this again."

"No problemo." She focused on the road ahead, and stayed at the speed limit. We didn't want to get caught for speeding.

We arrived at a secret location and got my captive inside. I had stashed food and water, and was prepared for a long and arduous process. This was my very own little Camp X-Ray. Prisoner population: 1.


He woke up - the sun hadn't come up yet - and looked a bit confused.

"Where am I?" He looked up at me. I had duct-taped his hands together behind his back. "Why are my hands tied? Who are you?"

"I used to have a name once."

"Damn, I really have to pee."

"Over there."

He couldn't lock himself in, so I pulled down his pants and let him use the bathroom on his own. When he came back (with his hands still tied behind his back), I pulled his pants back up. He stared at me as if only now he saw my appearance. I was wearing my usual night "uniform", and the mirror-shades clipped onto my glasses.

"What did you say your name was?" he asked, standing tense with bent knees, like he was going to crap on the floor or run away - except for the fact that the only exit was locked.

I gave him a blank face. "I have a lot of questions for you. Please sit down, and I'll fix you some food. Sorry, but you're not getting out of here until I've had some answers."

"Are you a terrorist?"

I could've smiled, but it wasn't the right moment. "Do I look like a terrorist?"

His silent, anxious stare said yes.

"Please sit down. I won't keep you awake all night, you're probably tired."


I gave him food and drink, and recorded a few introductory questions before we went to sleep. He was very tired. But at least I got his name (let's call him "Eric X"), his ID, and how he ended up in the "seminar." Assuming he wasn't lying, Eric X was a freshman member of the WCCC (World Computer Connected Church) center, and he'd received an invitation to the seminar on "biometric chip reasearch". Before he knew it, he'd been grabbed, drugged, and put on an operating table... the rest was more or less a blank.

Damn. This wasn't the knowing insider I'd been hoping to capture. Still, it wasn't too bad that I'd saved him from becoming one of the cult's zombies...



During the days which followed, Eric X and I talked. Well, I did the listening and recording, and asked most of the questions. He didn't get many answers from me. I soon untied him, when he understood that the WCCC probably wanted us both dead. It was nice to be able to talk to someone about the whole thing without getting strange looks or being treated like a lunatic. No one needed to convince Eric that something weird was going on the with the WCCC. He had seen it firsthand.

I'll quote some of our recorded interviews here - not the parts that I need to keep secret until I've learned more (such as dates, names and places)...

Eric X: "First time I visited their church center was by pure coincidence. They don't keep a flashy front. You have to be the curious type to find them. They don't want stupid people, that's for sure. Retired people with nothing to do came in sometimes, but they usually got bored and left, when they realized it wasn't a real church with a priest and stuff.

"The setup with the talking hologram doing the sermons... I don't know. I just don't know. Maybe it's fake. But it didn't feel fake. I believe it exists, I mean I still do. The Internet has come alive, like a giant electric brain, and whatever we feed it becomes its thoughts and memories. The poor thing must be going insane.

"But the church takes it one step further, and then another. They do it in small steps... that's how they get you. First they talk you into signing up for free stuff. Then you get on their 'exclusive' mailing list. Then you get invitations to seminars. Where the hell do they get their money? They never asked me to pay for anything!

"I said no thanks, the first time they invited me to a seminar. And the second seminar. But then I talked to a guy who had been to a previous seminar, and he had changed. I mean, really changed. He had bigger muscles, like they fed him steroids or something. Then other guys started turning up changed. They all sounded so... confident. Like they knew something I didn't, and it wasn't in the brochures or the sermons.

"Of course I asked him, 'Did they give you steroids?' and he laughed, and said that he'd been 'optimized.' He refused to explain more. That was really all he wanted to say. I tried to ask him, of course, but he just ignored me.

"The ones who came back changed, they... they could blend in into everyday life. They didn't say much, didn't cause trouble, didn't do anything weird... they didn't freak out. But something had changed. Like they weren't there anymore. In some situations, they acted real weird. Like the time we were going to cross the street, me and a guy who'd been to the seminar before me. We stood and waited for the green light...

"We got green light, and this guy just walks across the street without checking traffic. Some careless driver misses the light and almost runs him over... but the guy doesn't even notice. Like all that matters to him is the green light, and the cars are not real.

"So I just had to come along to the next seminar. I had to find out. Like I said, they want curious people. One of the other guys who'd already been changed, he drove me to the next seminar. There was a group of older guys, scientists I guess, but they didn't say their names. The guests were from different parts of the country, about five or six people. I couldn't recognize any of them.

"No, we don't have chat rooms. Before I went to the seminar, I posted a question about the WCCC on a message-board for tech people like myself... and the posting disappeared instantly. All I got was an error message. Tried several times, same thing. As if the church had an insider who censored the message-boards. Sounds crazy, doesn't it?

"At this seminar... they showed us the lab equipment, the lab animals they'd put the biometric chips into... I remember the cat especially. The kid was so weird. The scientists explained that the chip monitored the cat's brain activity, heart rate and other stuff... and then sent the information back into the cat's nervous system. This allowed the cat - if it were aware of the feedback, that is - to control its own body.

"The cat didn't act like a cat. It walked on two legs. And it looked at us like a human would. I almost thought it laughed at us. But cats don't laugh... do they? Have you ever seen a laughing cat?

"Then, late in the evening, we had dinner. When I and the guests got dizzy, I realized that the bastards had put something in our food. Then I fell asleep.

"I woke up tied to a bed or something... and the scientists were putting me through the big X-ray machine. I screamed for help, but they'd put duct tape over my mouth. Then they rolled me into the operating room...

"It was horrible! They didn't put me to sleep during the operation, they just did something so I wouldn't feel pain. Not drugs, but an electrode thing in my neck.

"They told me not to worry, and said that it would take a day or so before my new implant had grown attached to my nervous system. Once that happened, I would become 'free' and 'connected'. They really thought they were doing me a big favor!

"I lost consciousness... and then I woke up and was freezing. Heard noise, too.

"I never expected this to happen. I thought... I don't know what I thought. I was hoping for the church to... give meaning to things. It was hoping for a new form of spirituality, one that included technology instead of rejecting it. It seemed so optimistic and peaceful, a vision of a bright future without conflict or misunderstanding. But it turned out to be a nightmare.

"F***. The chip is still in my neck! I've got to cut it out before the nervous system grows into it! They used stem-cells to make the nerve endings grow into the circuits! That's how they did it with the cat! I don't want to become a laughing cat! Help me! Please help me..."

To feel sorry for others is a luxury I can't afford.



So I explained to Eric X about the two EMP devices, and that they had probably destroyed the chip in his neck before it could connect properly to his spine.

I wanted to take out the chip, so I could examine it under a microscope. I had expected it be built with a self-destruct program, which might still be functional - plus, it was attached very close to vital nerve stems. Eric understood the danger: if a surgeon tried to remove the chip, Eric might end up paralyzed or dead.

There was of course the other solution. (I didn't tell him that, but he might have thought about because he started to get real anxious to leave.)

We had a discussion about his options. If he tried to return to his home - the police was looking after him by now - he could ask for police protection, but there were no guarantees. I explained to him that others who had come too close to the WCCC had been killed. Also, their leader, "EYE", could hack into anything and would find him as long as he went by his old identity.

Eric didn't have the money or the know-how to change identity. He became more insistent: "Let me out of here! I'll go to the press, the police, and take my chances. At least I can expose those bastards to the public, and put an end to their damn 'seminars'!"

I quickly grabbed his throat and squeezed the arteries to his brain shut. As he passed out, I explained: "Sorry - can't take that risk."




And that is why Eric X ended up unconscious on his belly, on an improvised operating table... with me wearing gloves and a face mask.... as I tried to cut the chip out of his neck. I'd taped his head and body to the table, so he wouldn't move and get injured by the scalpel.

I got the chip out, and it was remarkably undamaged. A thorough examination ought to reveal a lot about EYE's progress and where the chips were manufactured (it has serial numbers on it, and I can trace its origins by comparing with diagrams of commercial and military computer chips.)

The patient died.

His heart stopped during surgery. I tried to start it up. No use. His spine had been damaged. Maybe he was doomed anyway: once the chip had grown into his spinal column, any sufficient electrical current induced into it might have stopped his heart. It's very likely that EYE could have offed him by remote signal.

Surgery was two weeks ago. It took me some time to get this written down. I'm too busy anyway. Got lots of work to do. So much work, in fact, I've got to call for backup.

It's about time I find my Sensei again.

I'm starting to get real pissed off now, EYE. Killing you just once might not be enough to calm me down...

continued in Dispatch 018..

Read the dispatch and you'll understand what this is... and why the dispatch is late.

"HAKKER: DISPATCHES" is (c) A.R.Yngve 1989, 2003, 2004.

This is a work of fiction. The characters and actions described herein are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons and events is coincidental. This work of fiction is not intended to incite to the violent and/or criminal acts described herein.

H.Ellison no longer exists.